Now, it’s possible you’re thinking as you read this blog title: ‘how does having a brand apply to me and my independent dental practice?’ ‘Brands are for large multi-national businesses, right?’
No, not just for them. Your dental practice is a business with a brand too. Whether you consciously recognise it or not. It’s there.
It may be intangible but you need to be in control of it as it is important component of your practice. And it warrants your attention because it is inextricably linked with the goodwill towards it. Build a positive brand and goodwill follows, which generates a larger number of loyal, returning patients. And subsequently a strong and profitable practice for you.
Plus in the long term, when you build goodwill towards your practice you can also expect it to attract a higher valuation when you come to sell it or pass it on.
When you consider these major benefits, it makes thinking about your brand worth your time, doesn’t it?!
So what exactly is a brand?
Brands are often understood to be a business logo, but your logo is merely a symbol of your brand. It should reflect your brand but it isn’t your brand in itself.
There are many formal definitions of a brand but one of the best is:
“A brand is a collection of perceptions in the mind of the consumer.”
Take a few moments to consider what perceptions your patients have of your brand? What ideas and images come to their minds when they see your logo, your dental practice name, your premises? (You may need to ask them).
Are these the images and thoughts you want them to have?
If not, it’s time for you to take control.
How you take control
There are other influences of course, but I propose a key factor involved in forming perceptions of your practice in the minds of your patients is your team.
Your team, their behaviours, attitudes and actions, all shape your patients’ impression of your dental business. So if you want to take control of your brand, a great place to start is encouraging your team to consciously consider this.
The concept of being a ‘walking ambassador’ for your practice can be an interesting thought process for most team members. But that’s exactly what they are. And how well they fulfill this role directly affects your brand and the success of your practice.
So take time together to consider the importance of this role. To think about what you are all about. What you collectively want to your practice to stand for.
Essentially, you are defining your core values. Core values which represent what your practice aims to be and what you want your patients to perceive it to be.
In order for your brand to reflect your core values, you firstly need your team to be committed to them. So it’s vital you give them this chance to discuss, consider and challenge them first of all.
Your values must be imprinted right through your practice if you want them to be demonstrated consistently and promote the positive associations you would like your patients to have.
For instance, if your values include ‘excellence’, excellence must be apparent at every point in your patient journey. From the way you answer calls, to the way you care for your patients while they are with you, to how you communicate with and talk about your patients between visits.
So it’s likely you’ll need to review your working systems. This is something which I suggest you do steadily and – well – systematically!
Start with the systems which involve direct contact with your patients. The ones your patients are aware of. These are your ‘identity’ systems. Consider with your team whether they oblige and enable your team to consistently demonstrate your values.
Then look at your other priority systems: those which are invisible to your patients but influence how well your identity systems are carried out. Make sure these systems are robust and consistent.
Keep on keeping on…
It’s vital you encourage your team to keep your values and the effect they have on your business brand in mind. So refer to your values in your team meetings and communications. Use the language around your core values as you speak to them.
Work to promote a culture which allows your team to discuss, positively and productively, when value systems have broken down.
Keep on keeping on in this way and it will have a positive effect on your brand. On the way your patients view your practice.
You’ll position your practice firmly as ‘first choice’ in the minds of your patients. You will build positive associations with your practice and goodwill for it will grow. Your patients will be happy to visit more regularly, accept more treatment, and be more likely to stay with you for life.
Have a question regarding your branding? Want to help the dental community by contributing your experiences of taking control of your brand? Please leave your comments and questions in the box below and I guarantee I will respond.
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